INDIAN MUSIC FORUMS

Sign up Calendar Latest Topics Chat
 
 
 


Reply
  Author   Comment  
Djinn Fizz

Registered:
Posts: 126
Reply with quote  #1 
Forward:

Winter Greetings to in my vast Indian Music Circle of Friends & Colleagues!

I am taking the liberty of forwarding an e-mail I just received from a dear colleague, Steven Baigel, who if you aren't already aware, has been working on an immensely important video documentary on the late sitarist Pandit Nikhil Banerjee. Steven's personal dedication to this project for many years has been way beyond the norm & puts to shame the functionaries, bureaucrats & ersatz scholars who adamantly guard materials & information they have no real sense of.

Steven is currently in India—now in Delhi after a month in Kolkata—and I just received the attached letter describing his predicament with the erstwhile prestigious Sangeet Natak Akademi. I feel that any who swim in the waters of Indian Classical Music scholarship & culture should be made aware of this Kafka-esque state of affairs & the absolutely horrible treatment that one of our brethren has received at the hands of petty bureaucrats.

I would urge EVERY ONE of you to write an e-mail to SNA Secretary Mr. Jayant Kastuar in support of Steven's important project & protesting the incredibly unco-operative attitude of the SNA. [Any and all e-mails sent to SNA oddly go through this one address: sangeetnatak@bol.net.in and then addressed to Mr. Kastuar.]

Perhaps only if SNA receives enough outside pressure will they relent in their obstinate stance; at least they should be made painfully aware that this attitude will not stand!

Time is of the essence for Steven is planning to leave India shortly & is rather despondent, to say the least, with the current position of SNA...

Thanking you ALL for your time & cooperation, Ira Landgarten

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Steven Baigel <sbaig@igc.org>
Date: Fri, Feb 19, 2010 at 7:38 AM
Subject: Catastrophe impending
To: Ira Landgarten <iralanda@gmail.com>

Ira,

Just thought to copy you a letter I just wrote to a friend in Kolkata who has been of enormous help to me by her contacts with Jawhar Sircar, Secretary, Ministry of Culture who wrote a support letter for me to Doordarshan and Films Division. What is below explains the situation I am now in fairly well. Without doubt today has turned into my absolute worst day in India on this trip. I'm in a pretty devastated condition. I thought I was going to SNA today (my 2nd visit while in time in Delhi) to actually get all the final permissions, that I thought had been approved. I was also going to try to get your photo. I left completely wasted and in a stupor.

Read on and weep for me and the film. I just want the hell out of here now.

sb

Dear Supriya,



It is with a heavy heart I write this letter to you, and I am so sorry to bother you, but I don't at this point know where else to turn.



When you offered your help on behalf of the film by asking Mr. Sircar to please lend his support and intervention which I so greatly appreciated I failed to consider the Sangeet Natak Akademi.



Many years ago during my initial research trips to India doing research for this film I visited SNA to see what resource materials they might have that would be useful for the film, especially knowing that Nikhil Banerjee was awarded the SNA Award. I met with a Mr. Malhotra - Technical Officer, and a Mr. Bansal who headed the SNA Documentation Division. I may have also briefly met with Mr. Sherbari Mukherjee who was then Director, but as it was so many years ago I can't recall. I told Mr. Malhotra and Mr. Bansal about my project and they were very helpful (certain details are fuzzy due to the long duration since those early visits to SNA). All three men are now long gone from SNA.



The essence of my meetings back then was explaining my documentary and what were its needs, As a result I was supplied with three items from SNA - all on low resolution VHS tape to be used explicitly for evaluation and editing purposes. The understanding and agreement being that upon determining exactly what I would require I would then order the items in high resolution, with all due permissions given, and of course fees paid by me. SNA would also receive mention in the credits for use of their materials. The three items were a 30 second silent film clip of Nikhil Banerjee receiving the SNA Award, a copy of a documentary on Ustad Allauddin Khan produced by SNA (30 min duration +/- I believe), and a 20 minute video of Nikhil Banerjee performing in a small room.



The rules and fee schedule of SNA at that time as were given to me were as follows: 1000 Rs per piece up to 30 seconds. Maximum of ten 30 second pieces allowed. What I am currently using in the film as you saw it is 20 seconds from SNA Award ceremony and approximately a minute or so of selections from the Allauddin Khan film. (a little longer I believe but I would have to watch and time all the short clips it to give precise times)



I have since been to SNA two times in the past two days to seek permission to purchase the footage I am currently using in the film work-in-progress. What came as a complete shock to me has been the complete lack of cooperation and understanding from SNA. I have been told conflicting information; one that SNA does not, and will not allow ANY of their materials to be used; Second, that only one 30 sec clip is maximum allowable. I have met twice with the current Documentation Division Head, Mr. Joseph and written and hand delivered two letters to the SNA Secretary Mr. Jayant Kastuar. The first one he signed and referred back to Mr. Joseph but Mr. Joseph told me it only signifies that Mr. Kastuar read the letter, but there is no mention of permissions or not. The second letter I have not received any response. As of this mail to you have I not been given any permissions at all.



I NEVER anticipated that I would run into such difficulties at SNA. I have explained the absolute importance of inclusion of this footage in the film; that Allauddin Khan was Nikhil Banerjee's guru and that this section of the film is narrated by Ustad Ali Akbar Khan (his other guru), this particular story being a very essential part of Nikhil Banerjee's over-all story that must be in the film. I also explained the importance of showing him receiving the SNA Award. I even offered to show them the sections of the film where I use this footage and Mr. Joseph had no interest in watching it. I could not gain personal access to Mr. Kastuar, but only to his PA who also showed no interest in seeing how the footage was being used..



As you must realize, this section of Nikhil Banerjee's time spent in Maihar learning and the issue around his changing teachers, explained by Ali Akbar Khansahib is one of the most important and well-crafted sections of the entire film. This cannot be told without the proper visuals. I cannot imagine moving forward with the film without inclusion of such critically important footage. I cannot for the life of me comprehend this intransigence on the part of SNA and what would inform their seemingly arbitrary hard core rules of not allowing use of SNA materials in other projects, even with all and proper fees paid, as well as full credit given. I have never in my professional life come across anything quite like this.



Furthermore, Mr. Joseph demanded to see paperwork from me showing that all those years ago I was actually given these materials for the purpose of my film. Such documentation I do not have and doubt was ever given in the first place. SNA does not as a policy, nor have they as far as my knowledge goes (and was told to me directly by Mr. Joseph) ever given such materials for one's personal collection. So I also tried to use this logic in my argument; for how and why I was given these resource materials - if not for eventual use in my film? I explained this is the first and only cinematic and complete documentation made on Nikhil Banerjee, one of India's greatest musicians, that I proceeded with my project and editing to get it to this point because of the agreement with SNA giving me these materials for such a purpose those many years ago, that I came from the U.S. to India and Delhi specifically to finalize acquisition of these materials, ...... No matter what I said I just ran into brick wall after brick wall.



So I am asking if it is at all possible to seek Mr. Sircar's assistance again? It has become obvious that some authority higher than the Secretary of SNA needs to give such permissions and access to these materials. Not to sound melodramatic but I really cannot see doing any further work on this film without the proper visual materials to maintain its integrity as a film. If I may be so bold, I firmly believe it is absolutely in India's great interest and benefit that this film be completed and properly, and such a sad state of affairs it will be if this rigidity and lack of cooperation from SNA prevents this film from being completed. I am quite devastated and literally shocked to my core by this turn of affairs.



Any and all e-mails sent to SNA oddly go through this one address: sangeetnatak@bol.net.in and then addressed to Mr. Kastuar.



Again, I do apologize for this letter but am completely at at my wits end on this matter. I also must leave India within the next week and return home to the U.S.



As always, my warmest regards, and of course any help you might be able to provide is so deeply appreciated.



Steven



P.S. This letter was written in great haste so please pardon any grammatical and/or typographical errors.
0
Lars

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 1,452
Reply with quote  #2 
You beat me to it! Glad it's public and sad to say I'm not surprised at what's happened. Steven has really been dedicated to this movie and I was lucky enough to visit him and see it last December. I hope things turn around......
__________________
http://www.raincitymusic.com
0
mahadev

Avatar / Picture

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 431
Reply with quote  #3 
Hmmm....


I am in Delhi and just met Steven, saw the film, has this correspondence been published with his approval ?

Anyhoo, I will be in Varanasi on Tuesday, any of the esteemed Forumites present ?

Regards,

Max

http://maxflury.com/

__________________
http://maxflury.com/
0
trippy monkey

Registered:
Posts: 4,281
Reply with quote  #4 
Max
I'm at Munna House near Mark's place & would LOVE to meet you in person.
Mobile is
9208018029

I wouldn't call myself esteemed though.

Nick
0
mahadev

Avatar / Picture

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 431
Reply with quote  #5 
Cool, let's have a lassi...

Steven Baigels film is remarkable. Professional, to the point, excellent well chosen and well placed footage, the first real documentary on Nikhil Banerjee. LOTS of work went into the making of this film and it needs to see the light of day and get the recognition it deserves.

Everybody here, support this project in any way you can.

__________________
http://maxflury.com/
0
redtape

Registered:
Posts: 122
Reply with quote  #6 
Nick Bhai I tried your number ~ It was not working ??? Wrong number perhaps?
0
redtape

Registered:
Posts: 122
Reply with quote  #7 
Amazing Film with amazing people working on it ~ Any help I can give I will be honored to give ~
0
trippy monkey

Registered:
Posts: 4,281
Reply with quote  #8 
Anand
Put 0 before 9 if calling from OUTSIDE Varanasi, I think. Max got me but he was IN Varanasi when he called.

Nick
0
Previous Topic | Next Topic
Print
Reply

Quick Navigation:

Easily create a Forum Website with Website Toolbox.